Third-period rally sees Thunder storm back

by Gary Ahuja

Reece Callies fires a shot on goal during the Langley Thunder's 9-5 victory over the visiting Victoria Shamrocks on July 5 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag LEC photo

Six straight goals to close the game sent the Langley Thunder to a ninth straight victory.

Hosting the Victoria Shamrocks on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre, the Thunder trailed by two late in the second period. But a power-play goal from Robert Church and a sneaky bouncer from Dylan Kinnear 25 seconds apart sent the teams into intermission tied at five before Langley outscored the Victoria visitors 4-0 over the final 20 minutes for the 9-5 win.

The victory improves Langley to 10-1 as they sit in first place in the Western Lacrosse Association standings. The Shamrocks saw their losing streak reach five games as their record fell to 4-6-1.

“We went down a little bit early and didn’t run away with it like we have the past few games, but we stuck with it. The bench was calm and pulled it out,” Kinnear said. “Going into the third was actually pretty high spirits just because we had banged those two right at the end and that tied it. It very easily could have been 5-3 going into the third.”

Jake Bowen struck for what would be the winning goal – his shot was in and out of the net so quickly, one official originally called it no goal – before Kinnear gave the Thunder their first multi-goal lead of the game. Curtis Dickson tacked on his second of the game and Jake Boudreau rounded out the scoring into the empty net. Clay Scanlan and Nathaniel Kozevnikov had the other Langley goals. Dickson led the Thunder with two goals and five points while Bowen had a goal and three helpers. Connor Robinson also finished with three assists.

Thunder coach Curt Malawsky said his team stayed calm and composed after being held to three goals in the game’s first 38 minutes.

“(Victoria) got into a lot of shooting lanes and knocked down a lot of balls. We were carrying it too long and they were able to get to their posts and get into the shooting lanes. In the third period we were playing a little bit faster and were able to shoot off the catch a little bit better and made some adjustments on how they were playing defence,” he explained adding that Shamrocks goaltender Cam Dunkerley came up with several big saves to stymie the potent Thunder attack.

“The guys didn’t play selfish, they just stuck with it and played good team offence.”

All season, the coaches have preached a message of “calmness is contagious.”

“Just breath and play the shift in front of you. It is nice when you preach it and the guys buy into it. They battled for each other. You start trusting the guy next to you and once you start trusting him and he trusts you, you start getting belief because things go your way,” he said.

“We get those big two goals at the end, bring it in to 5-5. We just wanted to simplify our game and take care of the ball and I think we did that. Just build on good shifts, that good foundation that we have lately. I think guys did that.”

Frank Scigliano was the first star with a 44-save performance as this marked his fourth-straight game with a save percentage above .850. For the season, he improved to 10-0 with a 5.82 goals against average and .873 save percentage. All three statistics are tops in the WLA.

Tom Vaesen scored a pair to lead the Shamrocks while Derek Lloyd, Cory Conway and Casey Wilson had the other Victoria goals. Cam Dunkerley made 35 saves.

Dickson was the second star while Vaesen was the third star.

Special teams were not much of a factor in the game as there were only three penalties called with Langley scoring once on their two chances while Victoria was denied on their only power play opportunity by the league’s top-ranked penalty kill unit.

The Thunder are right back in action on Thursday (July 6) as they head to Queen’s Park Arena for a first-place showdown with the New Westminster Salmonbellies (9-2). Game time is 7:30PM. The next Thunder home game at Langley Events Centre is July 12 as they host the Nanaimo Timbermen at 7:00pm.